Depressive disorders have, for a sizeable extent, proven resilient to pharmacotherapy. Established drugs such as
selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) often provide
inadequate symptom relief and sometimes fail altogether. Recently, interest in antidepressant effects of scopolamine, a
non-selective muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (mAChR) antagonist, has arisen. Initial evidence suggests that
scopolamine provides relatively rapid and long-lasting symptom alleviation for unipolar and bipolar depressed patients. At
the same time, side effects of medical dosages appear mild and transient in nature. The aim of the present review is to
tentatively discuss the antidepressant potential of scopolamine and to outline putative neurobiological pathways. Clearly,
mAChR antagonism provides an intriguing novel therapeutical approach for treating depressive disorders.
Keywords: Acetylcholine, antidepressants, depression, muscarinic receptors, monoamines, scopolamine.
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